1 evening a week for 6 weeks / 7 benchmark wines each evening
6.45-8.45pm (Evgs 1 & 2 last a little longer).
C-Space, 37-45 City Road, London EC1Y 1AT. This is immediately opposite the Bunhill Cemetery and Zebra Crossing, and right next to Wesley’s Chapel. A 3 minute walk from Old Street Tube, 7 minutes from Moorgate or Liverpool Street, and on numerous bus routes: 43, 76, 121, 141, 177 etc.
£359   Scroll to the bottom of this page for the purchase link.

This course is based on the 9 tastings detailed in the last section of my book: Essential Winetasting. It is an introduction to basic tasting technique, covering the world’s major grape varieties and their varying styles from the principal wine producing countries.



Because of the uncertainties surrounding Coronavirus,
these dates are  provisional:
Mondays: Oct 5, 12, 19, 26; Nov 2, 9.

Beginners course core content

  • Benchmark quality wines to taste.
  • A thorough grounding in tasting, in how to ‘see what there is to see’.
  • Perceiving quality differences, describing style differences.
  • Enabling you to make sense of what you taste in terms of description, quality, style, typicity, preference, value for money, drinking context.
  • 41 wines are tasted ranging, approximately, from £5 to £45 a bottle.


By the end of six weeks you will have

  • Tasted the majority of different wine types.
  • A system which helps you compare, describe and remember wines.
  • A means of enabling you to perceive and discuss their quality.
  • The ability to see more ‘patterns’ in wine, & make more sense of its great variety.
  • A better developed combination of personal taste and objective judgement.


Wines from europe

  • France: Loire (Muscadet, Sancerre,) Alsace; Burgundy (red, white); Beaujolais; Bordeaux; Champagne; Rhône.
  • Italy: Tuscany; Piedmont.
  • Spain: Rioja; Sherry.
  • Germany: Mosel.
  • Hungary: Tokay.
  • Portugal: Port, Madeira.


Wines from the new world

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • California
  • Chile
  • South Africa


Major grape varieties tasted

  • White: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Furmint, Muscat
  • Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Syrah/Shiraz


Major wine styles tasted

  • White
  • Red
  • Dry
  • Sweet
  • Sparkling
  • Fortified

Beginners Course Synopses

Evening 1

Wines: Dry Whites

Countries / Regions: ITALY, FRANCE: Alsace, Loire, Burgundy

Grapes: Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay

You will learn about::

  • Glassware to use, styles of bottles
  • How and where you notice sweetness, acidity
  • The tasting properties of alcohol
  • Basic Tasting Technique – How to get the most out of a wine
  • The elements in white wine balance
  • Varieties of white wine style & the importance of acidity
  • What colour tells you in white wine
  • How to tell differences in quality in dry white wines
  • How to “nose” efficiently
  • France and its ‘Appellation ‘ system
  • The effects of oak barrels on white wine
  • White wine and temperature
  • Combining white wine with food
Evening 2

Wines: Reds

Countries / Regions: FRANCE: Bordeaux, Burgundy, SPAIN: Rioja ITALY: Piedmont

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo.

You will learn about:

  • How grapes are grown and how wine is made (POWERPOINT SHOW)
  • The differences between red wine and white wine
  • Grape skins – what tannin is, and its effect on wine and food
  • The effects of temperature on red wine
  • What colour tells you in red wine
  • How to tell differences in quality in red wines
  • The effect of oak barrels on red wine
  • Decanting, and letting wines ‘breathe’
  • Combining red wines with food
  • Geography and hierarchy in Bordeaux
  • Wine and age.  Is older necessarily better?
Evening 3

Wines: Reds & Whites (Dry & At Various Levels Of Sweetness)


Grapes: All the wines are served ‘blind’ this evening

You will learn about:

  • Blind Tasting (red and white) – its advantages and disadvantages
  • ‘What it’s like’ versus ‘whether I like it’
  • Is it ‘good value’? versus Is it ‘good of its kind’?
  • Wine and words
  • Description as distinct from evaluation
  • How sweet wines are made
  • Varieties of sweet wine styles
  • The effects of alcohol on taste
  • Wines at very different levels of sweetness
  • What ‘Noble Rot’ is
  • Combining dessert wines with food
Evening 4

Wines: Sparkling & ‘Muted’ & Fortified


Grapes: Dessert Muscats; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier

You will learn about:

  • How sparkling wines are made (POWERPOINT SHOW)
  • Tasting and judging sparkling wines – Blind
  • Quality in sparkling wines – the bubbles especially
  • Serving sparkling wines
  • Stopping fermentation to make wines sweet
  • The extraordinary Muscat family
Evening 5

Wines: Dry Whites & Reds


Grapes: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc; Syrah/Shiraz, Cab. Sauvignon, Merlot

You will learn about:

  • Viticulture & Winemaking in the New World (POWERPOINT SHOW)
  • Non European wines
  • How New World wines are labelled
  • How New World Wines differ in style from European wines
  • Different styles, but the same fundamental quality criteria
  • Syrah (Europe) versus Shiraz (Australia)
  • New World Cabernet based wines
  • How to tell faults in wine
Evening 6

Wines: Fortified (Sherry, Port, Madeira)

Countries / Regions: SPAIN, PORTUGAL, MADEIRA

Grapes: A great number!

You will learn about:

  • Where & how Sherry, Port and Madeira are made (POWERPOINT SHOW)
  • Fortified wines and their different styles
  • Sherry: bone dry, and sweet
  • Madeira: at very different quality levels
  • Port: ruby or tawny, and vintage
  • Tasting and judging fortified wines
  • Fortified wines and food
  • A revision of how you perceive and articulate quality differences
  • How to store & cellar wines, the different systems available
  • Making your own notes and records, how and why
  • Buying wine en primeur, to ‘lay down’.

[tribe_events_list category=”beginners-courses”]


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